Differences between RTW - MTM - Bespoke / Part 1: Ready-to-wear
Soooooo, here we’re talking about the basics and many of the readers will probably be already familiar with these concepts, but it’s definitely interesting to go through definitions and characteristics at least once for the sake of better understanding.
Beware that what was supposed to be a very simple article turned out to be quite a long read (how naive of me to think that the subject could be discussed in a short article), so I decided to save you the effort and split the content in three different posts, a sort of compact guide.
Without much further ado, let’s start with RTW.
Ready-To-Wear, often referred to as Prêt-à-Porter (PAP) or Ready Made by people in the industry and as “off-the-rack” or “off-the shelves” in casual use, is the term used to describe factory-made clothing.
Ready-to-wear clothing is thus produced using standard patterns, factory equipment and faster construction techniques in order to keep costs low and increase margins, based on the assumption that standard sizes fit most people.
One of the first examples we have of mass-produced clothing dates back to the British-American War (1812-1815), when military uniforms were serially produced. The first chain of department stores was probably opened in Belgium by the Dewatcher Brothers as soon as 1875 but the greatest impulse to RTW production and distribution came in my opinion in the 1950s, with the democratizing of fashion influences and the advent of mass-medias.
Of course one of the biggest advantages of RTW is the possibility for customers to walk in a store and immediately find a plethora of options ready to be tried on and bought.
It’s the standard way for shopping and I dare say that every one of us buys or at least has bought most of their stuff from RTW retailers.
As all of you are aware, prices and availability of RTW clothing depend of course on many factors: the renown of the brand, their positioning on the market and marketing strategies, the quality of the garments make and fabrics, the fashion trend of the moment, the investments done in communication, physical spaces and customer service, etc. etc.
After years spent working in the universe of RTW retailing, getting to understand the amount of resources wasted in order to sustain this business model (and the fact that little to no personalization is available for these garments) has brought me to believe the system to be flawed and unsustainable already in the very near future; which has then led me to try and discover the joys of MTM clothing, for the formal attires at least.
The sustainability (or lack thereof) of the current fashion industry deserves to be the subject of a wider and deeper discussion (spoiler alert, later posts), but for the moment think simply of all the unsold stocks at the end of every season, in every store; think about the extra productions these stocks involved before landing on the shelves and remaining unsold - and I hope you’ll get my point.
What do you think of Ready To Wear garments? In your opinion which RTW brands offer good quality products, worth their value and the production process involved?